Tag Archives: 2008

Sweet dreams with Michelle and Róisín

roisinHOLY verbosity, scream insanity! All you ever gonna be is another great fan of me .. posting twice in the same week. Yes, it’s a veritable shit-storm of uninformed opinion, reckless conjecture and outright lies. What can I say? Buy an umbrella.

Me and the missus bought a couple of tickets for Róisín Murphy’s sold-out gig at the Academy on Friday night from one of Manchester’s army of charming ticket touts (“I’d give you a couple of quid back if I had any change,” he said as we handed over 40 quid for two £19 tickets) and had such a good time that I felt compelled to tell you all about it.

A thousand drunk girls with fascinators, all the gays in the world and us two, straight out of work, scream in unison at the appearance of La Murphy behind a chiffon curtain. She sings the whole of the first song, You Know Me Better, from behind that same curtain, upon which a succession of appropriately trippy, glam and kitsch images are projected.

Why isn’t this woman a popstar? I don’t get it. Am I missing something?

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Loving the aliens .. plus everything you ever wanted to know about Rudimentary Peni but were afraid to ask

ONE-TIME Playboy bunny Marion Benoist and ex-Motherfucker feedback enthusiast Fred de Fred (aka the Lovers) have been making beautiful music together since they were introduced by a mutual friend in London on September 11, 2001.

Now based in Sheffield – they have no plans to invade Afghanistan, for the moment – the Lovers’ naughty but nice second album continues the saucy crusade they began with their eponymous debut three years ago. Recorded in Texas and South Yorkshire, Pardon My French contains the kind of big production pop nobody is supposed to make anymore. I think it could be my favourite album of the year.

An effortlessly exotic and eclectic sound – whistling, kazoos, ukuleles, a glockenspiel, a sousaphone, even a clarinet are all thrown into the mix – might make Pardon My French seem like it’s from another time and place but closer listening reveals some talented musicianship and a resolutely individual, contemporary and internationalist outlook.

If that wasn’t enough, they’re sexy and funny, they sing in French, English and a strange combination of the two, and they write killer hooks too. What more do you need to know?

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The vinyl countdown

FOURTEEN years after he was name-checked in Shakermaker, Peter Howard – alias Mr Sifter – still gets fans turning up at the shop he runs on Fog Lane in the Manchester suburb of Didsbury.

“We get them coming from all over, and they say, where else is there to go in Burnage? You have a hard time thinking of anywhere,” he says as he quickly bags up a couple of country singles for an old bloke who’s parked on a double yellow outside.

Howard scraped together the initial stock for the shop by placing want ads in local newspapers and shop windows and trawling through house clearances and charity shops. Unfortunately, as the time came to move in, there wasn’t quite enough to fill out the place and so he made the heart-breaking decision to include his own personal collection of some 600 albums in the stock.

“I was as sick as a pig,” says a now resigned Howard, “but I thought to myself, I’ll dedicate the next few years to getting them back, one by one.”

And how did that work out for you?

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Flux of Pink Indians*2

UNLIKE Spinal Tap, Colin Latter, Kevin Hunter and Martin Wilson didn’t have any unexpected chart success in Japan to tempt them into reforming Flux of Pink Indians. But they did have Steve Ignorant.

Although there had been many lucrative offers to get Flux back together since the band split in 1986, it was the chance to appear at last year’s Feeding of the 5000 spectacular – where Ignorant and an all-star backing band performed the whole of the incendiary debut release by Crass at Shepherds Bush Empire – that finally did the trick.

“First of all we said we’d think about it, thinking that the guy would go away and we wouldn’t have to worry about it,” says Latter, who barely seems to have aged a day in 25 years. Only after “some very serious consideration” did they agree to do the gig and even then you get the impression that they didn’t really understand why.

As Latter commented on the Southern messageboard at the time, “Moment of madness? Dunno. Punk defined my life, so a chance to make a racket once more was too tempting.”

“I think it was the fact that it was Steve,” says Kev Hunter. “That was the single most important thing, that he was someone that we admired and respected so much. I don’t know if we would have done it for anyone else.”

“Obviously, if the gig had nothing to do with Crass, we wouldn’t have done it, but the fact that it was Steve kinda swung it for us,” agrees Latter.

“It shows you how in touch I am,” laughs Martin Wilson. “I just thought, Shepherd’s Bush Empire? Us? No way. There’s no way we’d fill a place like that, us and Crass. Who’s going to want to see us these days?”

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How not to interview the Butthole Surfers

I FIND out about the gig just two days beforehand, by chance. The Butthole Surfers are playing in Manchester on Saturday night.

The Buttholes! Manchester! Saturday night! What the fuck?

As far as I can make out, the band (the same line-up I interviewed in 1987) are only able to do this European tour because of financial assistance from the Paul Green School of Rock, whose young charges Haynes has been tutoring of late. Ahead of the tour, he was asked about gigging with kids by Mojo magazine.

“Well, at the earlier shows I played with them I said some very provocative things which I do not wish to relive,” said Haynes. “Mindbendingly inappropriate. The kids loved it. It’s all about the kids, man! My obligation is to them, not their parents.

“I was privy to an email from the parents after the last set of performances, which said: ‘How much more inappropriate behaviour are we to expect from Gibby?’ I promised to do nothing out of character.”

Trouble is, we’re skint, and despite my best efforts, I absolutely fail to get on the guesty via the tattered remains of my rock’n’roll contacts book. I resolve to work the old fanzine trick of going down on the night, hanging around before the soundcheck and asking for an interview direct – and by the way, could you also stick me on the guest list, plus one?

A couple of kids and an older bloke are throwing a ball against a wall by the side of what looks very much like the Buttholes tour bus. They’re speaking with American accents so I introduce myself and find that the guy is the tour manager. So what do you think? Will they be up for it?

“You need to speak to Tina,” he says and points me at the formidable vision in leopard skin and fuck-me boots teetering round the corner of the university towards us. The woman is fierce. She appraises me coolly as I explain what I want to do.

“It’s really up to Gibby,” she tells me. “But I’ll see what he says.”

Well, I dunno if it makes any difference, I add, knowing how lame it’s going sound even before I say it, but I interviewed them like 20 years ago. I know their stuff. I’m not coming into this cold …

“I’ll ask, okay?”

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The Tony Wilson Experience

AS WE approach the first anniversary of Tony Wilson’s death, I thought this might be an appropriate time to publish a longer version of a piece I wrote about the Tony Wilson Experience, a ’24-hour conversation’ organised in Wilson’s memory by his friends.

It took place in Manchester from Saturday to Sunday, from noon on June 21 (the longest day) to noon on June 22, in front of a specially invited audience of young Manchester creatives.

Stupidly, I volunteered to cover the whole thing on my own.

* * *

11.45am: We’re in a white tent that looks like a small big top. The circus is in town.

What will be variously described as ‘a yurt’, ‘Tony’s tepee’, and more properly, ‘Manchester International Festival’s Stephenson Bell pavilion’, has landed next door to Urbis for the Tony Wilson Experience, a non-stop 24-hour marathon of intelligent conversation in honour of the great Salfordian entrepreneur who died just over a year ago.

“The Tony Wilson Experience is for the next generation of creative talent,” say Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese and Peter Saville, the city’s creative director and Wilson’s colleague and friend for many years in the event programme. “We hope it will inspire, stimulate and encourage them and help them to unlock their own creativity an future potential.

“It is our way of paying tribute to Anthony H Wilson.

“A remarkable man”.

A voice bubble saying ‘Reification’ hovers above a couple of Habitat sofas on a small stage. Hacienda-style yellow and black vinyl stripes cover the floor and string quartet Litmus’s gentle reworking of Love Will Tear Us Apart plays over the PA system. I wonder how my backside is going to cope with sitting on these unforgiving wooden seats.

The longest day is about right.

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Ramblas association

THINGS rarely go to plan in Barcelona.

It’s the start of the city’s annual Mercé festival and Mayor Joan Clos is trying to make a speech. Unfortunately, as well as hundreds of local culture vultures and tourists waiting for the appearance of the neighbourhood Gigantes, Plaça de Sant Jaume is also packed with anarchists, trade unionists and community activists protesting against the Forum, police brutality, new hotel developments, Mayor Clos himself and, well, what else have you got?

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